Olympian, Samantha Quek MBE, Team GB gymnast Joe Fraser; and former BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero award winner, Marcellus Baz help Gareth get to Gretna Green
Thursday 12th December: Welsh Rugby legend, Gareth Thomas, has this evening crossed the Scottish border and arrived in Gretna Green, to complete the fourth leg of his exhausting 500-mile, seven-day cycle challenge, The Tour De Trophy for Sport Relief.
Setting off at 7am from Kendal this morning, Gareth’s 64-mile route has seen him take on the steepest climbs of the challenge so far, torrential rain as he cycled through the Shap Hills, and the Cumbria dales, before crossing the Scottish border.
With 200 miles still to go, the former Welsh and British Lions rugby captain is on his way to the P&J arena in Aberdeen, as he attempts to raise life changing cash for Sport Relief and also deliver the BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy to the live awards show on Sunday 15th December in time to be presented to this year’s winner.
Olympian, Samantha Quek MBE; Team GB gymnast, Joe Fraser; and former BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero award winner, Marcellus Baz, joined Gareth on the Quatrocycle to help him push through the steep inclines of the Lake District.
Despite the challenge, the team were able to use the Cumbrian winds to their advantage, to record a Quatrocycle speed record of 30.3mph – only 700mph short of the current land speed record.
Former British hockey player, Samantha Quek MBE said: “It means a lot to be involved. The amount of work Gareth has done previously, with all the things he has had to deal with, and the things he now represents make him a real trailblazer. And now, to be doing this in aid of Sport Relief, with all the different projects associated to them is incredible. It’s amazing to have been able to come here to help him, and to get him through a few miles with our legs and our chat.”
Today Gareth also visited members of the Newcastle United Foundation – Walking Football Project, to learn how funds raised by Sport Relief are engaging men in walking football. Gareth met 74-year-old John Nesbitt who was left feeling isolated and alone the passing of his wife.
John told Gareth how the Newcastle United Foundation has given him an opportunity to revisit his passion for sport, rebuild his confidence, and access vital mental health support. The project has also helped him improve his health and fitness and build greater connections with his local community.
John Nesbitt said: “Having the opportunity to play football at my age is so important. But a lot of people think that as you get older you can’t do anything like this which leads to isolation. I have felt alone, but the foundation has created a community for me which I look forward to every week. It’s so much more than the football though, and having the lads around me, and counsellors behind the scenes that I can speak to, has really helped me. Men shouldn’t feel like they can’t speak out about their mental health; instead they should know that half a problem shared, is half a problem solved.”
Gareth Thomas said: “Crossing the border today was a real milestone for me to overcome – as dare I say it, we’re now over half-way! But at the same time, I know that I have it all to do again, which is quite daunting. But again, as I have done on every leg of the tour, I’m taking inspiration from the incredible people that I’m meeting along the way, just like John, to will me on and give me the determination to overcome any challenge put in my way.”
Since setting off from Cardiff on Monday morning, Gareth has cycled more than 296 miles, taking in towns, cities and market towns across England and Wales. Tomorrow morning Gareth will set-off from Greta Green and cycle to Whitburn. All of the excitement will be captured and live-streamed on BBC Sport and documented across BBC Radio 5 Live.